Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production, and fetal and infant development; this is why it is a crucial nutrient for proper health at all stages of life. As our body cannot produce iodine, it should be supplied regularly through a healthy diet. Iodine deficiency exists in about 54 countries around the world according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is because the soils in these countries contain too little, sometimes no iodine.
Iodine is the key component in the production of the thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones help the body to optimally use energy, stay warm, and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should2. Thyroid hormones and therefore iodine are essential for the growth of unborn children, their bone maturation and brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO; 1994) insufficient iodine intake is recognized as the most common preventable cause of mental retardation.
- 2American Thyroid Association. Thyroid Function Tests. http://www.thyroid.org/patients/brochures/FunctionTests_brochure.pdf 2005 Accessed November 2011